November 7, 2007

Big Ten Basketball Preview - Purdue

There is some serious excitement in West Lafayette. Coach Matt Painter has brought in the most talented recruiting class since the days of the "Big Dog" Glenn Robinson (and this may be better). Rivals ranked 7th nationally with 4 top 100 players. There are at least 5 talented freshmen who will contribute heavily to the Boilermakers this year. After a successful 22 win season and a contested 2nd round NCAA loss to the eventual nation champions there is reason for optimism.

What is lost in all of this hoopla is what has been lost. Only 2 starters are lost but those 2 (Landry and Teague) accounted for nearly half of Purdue's scoring. That is a LOT of experience and scoring that they have to replace. Along with the scoring Purdue has also lost their top 3 rebounders. So while there is significant talent coming in, they have some big holes to fill.

PG - Chris Kramer - Here is the most experienced player returning, and Kramer is a soph. He was on the Big Ten All-Defensive team as a freshman so there is some serious talent here. Purdue fans should be wary that Kramer had surgery this offseason and nagging injuries last year, but assuming he is healthy Kramer is a potential All-Big Ten player.

SG - E'Twaun Moore - beat Eric Gordon's team in the Indiana State Championships scoring 28 points. Moore is the most highly rated freshman of this great recruiting class and will be given every opportunity to be a playmaker for Purdue. I think people will be quick to use Mike Conley Jr's breakout freshman season as an example of what you can expect to see from Moore. But Moore is missing a guy like Greg Oden who is a once in 10 years type of freshman post player. How good will he be? I don't know but it will be fun to watch.

G - Keaton Grant - did not show up in their exhibition opener because he is suspended through the regular season opener, but it is expected that the returning guard will likely be a starter. Grant is a scorer who will likely get more opportunities to score now that Teague and Landry are gone.

F - Robbie Hummell - 6'7" freshman who started in the exhibition game on 11/6. Hummell is the guy who will rebound well, pass well and do the little things necessary to help the team win.

C - JaJuan Johnson - also started in initial exhibition game, this 6'10" lanky freshman has been called a real steal by coach Matt Painter. How well the 210 lb freshman will hold up in Big Ten play will be an interesting sub-plot in the story of how successful this team can be.

Key Bench - Tarrance Crump - here is your lone senior on the team. Crump is fast and will likely be a key player off the bench to impact the game by changing the pace of the game.
Key Bench - Scott Martin (pictured right) - good shooter and scoring freshman. 6'8", who will be relied upon to pick up the scoring load I'm sure.
Key Bench - Marcus Green - 3-pt shooting, junior
Key Bench - Gordan Watt - not on the current roster, I don't know what the story is but if he is on the team he will be a very valuable wing who started 33/34 games last season.
Key Bench - Nemanja Calasan - 6'9" Bosnian forward who is waiting to be declared eligible to play. The JUCO transfer will be important to helping in the middle.

Prediction - There is some serious young talent on this team, but 2 things concern me. 1-is the size, this team may really struggle to defend the paint. 2-experience, making up for 33 points lost is really tough to do with a combination of freshmen. With that said I really like their athleticism and their ability to defend the perimeter with speed and physicalness.

Purdue will finish the Big Ten season somewhere in the 8-10 win range. They are another team that could really come out and make me look bad with this prediction. I referenced it above but I get the feeling that Boilermaker fans are subconsciously thinking they will be this year's Ohio State. But I think they are lacking the experience Ohio State had and while their freshman class is really good, it isn't a class with 3 one-and-done players who will be drafted in the first round.

Ultimately this is a growing season for the Boilermakers and next season could be something really special. Purdue finishes 7th makes a nice run in the NIT (bubble team though). At this point I think Purdue fans will be disappointed with a finish like this, but in the long run I think they'll benefit from a few stuggles and a run of wins in the NIT.


Anonymous said...

I don't think that we as purdue fans are expecting this to be like Ohio State last year... Triple J is not Greg Oden, and Conley was a little more developed than Moore out of high school... WE ARE HOPING HOWEVER... THAT '08-'09 or even '09-'10 is our time to shine.

Tom said...

maybe not, I'm just sensing some over-exuberance. I watched Purdue last night on BTN and those freshmen are a year away I think. After their bodies mature a little bit they will be outstanding though. JJJ and Moore both are very smallish once they put a little meat on they'll be a lot of fun to watch.

Anonymous said...

oh btw tom, Gordon Watt got kicked off the team because of his 2nd DUI infraction, this goes along with Keaton Grant being suspended for the 2 exhibitions and the season opener both were caught drinking. Thats one thing we Boilers like about Painter, he's not gonna put up with any mess, either on the court or off the court.